FBI Reports Self-driving cars could be ‘lethal weapons’

Report says autonomous technology could benefit criminals.

Almost everybody welcomes new technology, and the latest on the horizon is self-driving cars. This new vehicle technology is already being tested in Nevada and California. It is believed that self-driving cars not only would lead to driver convenience but reduce accidents and collision repair. Unfortunately, it could also lead to unintended consequences. One of these, according to a recent FBI report, is the potential for criminals and terrorists to abuse autonomous cars to more easily do their dirty work.

In the unclassified but restricted report obtained by British newspaper The Guardian, the FBI said “the risk that distraction or poor judgment leading to collision that stems from manual operation would be substantially reduced” by self-driving cars. And it added that autonomous technology could be approved by the U.S. government within five to seven years, there by reducing injury and insurance claims.

But while the FBI believes that self-driving cars “will make mobility more efficient,” it said in the report that the technology “will also open up greater possibilities … for a car to be more of a potential lethal weapon.” It predicted that “bad actors will be able to conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road, which would be impossible today.”

This could range from criminals firing guns at police in pursuit without the need for a separate getaway driver to terrorists programming self-driving car bombs. But the FBI believes that autonomous cars will also help the good guys and that the technology “will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car.”

“Surveillance will be made more effective and easier, with less of a chance that a patrol car will lose sight of a target vehicle,” the report said. “In addition, algorithms can control the distance that the patrol car is behind the target to avoid detection or intentionally have a patrol car make opposite turns at intersections, yet successfully meet up at later points with the target.”

The reported information noted that self-driving cars might also be able to “optimize” three-point turns and other maneuvers so that law enforcement isn’t delayed when pursuing a suspect or heading to a crime scene, it added that “autonomous cars would likely face many hardships with evasive driving or car chases.”

For now, Arizona does not have any self-driving vehicles on the road, Airpark Collision Center encourages everyone to follow the rules of the road and drive safe!

Tina Small has been part of the Airpark Collision Center team since 2006. Working directly with customers, her goal is to share frequent customer questions, and proper methods of collision repair.